Coming off a flat performance in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Philadelphia 76ers return to the court tonight, hosting the Indiana Pacers with just two games remaining before the All-Star break. The Sixers hold just a 0.5-game lead over Brooklyn for first place in the Eastern Conference, after the Nets lost Saturday night as well, 115-98 to the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight’s opponent, Indiana, has dropped three straight games to fall all the way to a tie for ninth place in a crowded middle of the pack in the East.
While Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were selected to the original 12-man All-Star rosters, the Pacers just received All-Star news of their own, as Domantas Sabonis was selected as the injury replacement for Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant. Other than Sabonis, who has played in all 32 Pacers game this season, Indiana has been struggling to stay healthy. T.J. Warren and trade acquisition Caris LeVert both remain out with long-term injuries/medical procedures, and the team’s backcourt has been dealing with some minor nicks of late. Malcolm Brogdon sat out on Saturday due to knee soreness, and is listed as questionable for tonight’s game. Brogdon played well in these teams’ last meeting on January 31, scoring 25 points. Meanwhile, Jeremy Lamb was limited to just 12 minutes on Saturday with knee soreness of his own. Remember that Lamb did not begin the season until late January after tearing his ACL a year ago.
On the injury front for the Sixers, Tobias Harris is listed as questionable with his bruised knee. It would be very surprising for Tobias to play this week, as the added rest over the All-Star break would seem the most prudent path, even if there was no structural damage for him during the MRI. Joel Embiid is on the injury report with a new ailment, as he apparently suffered a sprained ankle while dropping 42 points on Cleveland Saturday. Between the back and ankle, Embiid might get a rest this week, or he could try to power through with the All-Star break right around the corner. Embiid missed the last game against Indiana, and it would be a real shame if we missed yet another opportunity for him to repeatedly send Myles Turner to the bench with one foul after another.
The Pacers are certainly not playing their best ball lately, and playing at home, this is a winnable game for the Sixers. Of course, Saturday’s game against Cleveland was the prototypical definition of winnable and the team’s supporting cast punted that opportunity up to the DJ booth in the 20th row. The good news is I find it hard to fathom Seth Curry shooting as poorly as his 1-of-13 performance against Cleveland. Check back tonight to see if Joel and Ben get any help in building some momentum as this first half of the season winds down.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 7:00pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid - questionable (ankle); Tobias Harris - questionable (knee)
Indiana: T.J. Warren - out (foot); Caris LeVert - out (kidney); Malcolm Brogdon - questionable (knee); Jeremy Lamb - questionable (knee)